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Eustache, Forney named all-conference; Eustache is NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year

Gabi Eustache (left) was named First Team All-NESCAC and NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year, while Jacqueline Forney (right) earned Second Team All-NESCAC honors on Nov. 8, 2017. (File photos by Phyllis Graber Jensen (left) and Theophil Syslo (right)/Bates College)

HADLEY, Mass. -- Sophomore libero Gabi Eustache was named First Team All-Conference and Defensive Player of the Year, while senior setter Jacqueline Forney was named Second Team All-Conference Wednesday as the New England Small College Athletic Conference announced its year-end awards for women's volleyball.

Eustache (New York, N.Y.) followed up on her outstanding first year as Bates' libero by improving from 5.01 digs per set in 2016 to 5.77 digs per set in 2017. In NESCAC games, Eustache's average jumped to 6.89 digs per set, ranking first in the conference. While popping up countless spikes and perfectly passing countless serves in Bates' back row, Eustache also ranked second on the Bobcats in assists with 0.45 per set.

Forney (Bloomington, Ind.), who was also named NESCAC Player of the Week this season on Oct. 16, wins her first career all-conference award and becomes Bates' first All-NESCAC setter since Kate Hagstrom in 2000. A three-year team captain and three-time NESCAC All-Academic selection, Forney established career-highs in assists (9.62 per set), digs (2.80) and blocks (0.35) this season.

Eustache is Bates' NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year since Lauren Fennessey was selected in back-to-back years in 2000 and 2001. 

Bates now has three All-NESCAC selections in the past two years, following Chandler McGrath's First Team All-NESCAC honor last year. This is the program's first time with two players named All-NESCAC in the same season since 2003, when Liz Wanless and Olivia Zurek both earned the honor.

Bates finished the season with a 12-14 record, the Bobcats' most victories since 2009. With players like Forney and Eustache providing the backbone for the Bates attack by hitters such as sophomore Taylor Stafford-Smith (Calabasas, Calif.), first-year Angel Echipue (Munich, Germany), first-year Ruby Lightbourn (Los Angeles, Calif.), junior Claire Naughton (Darien, Conn.) and first-year Delaney Mayfield (Santa Barbara, Calif.), Bates made its third consecutive appearance in the NESCAC tournament.

2017 NESCAC Volleyball All-Conference Teams Release